Theme 2: What is learning?:Classic & contemporary views Imagine the following….friends contact you and ask you to advise them (after all you are now becoming a teacher!) on… How to give up junk food and lose weight How to learn Spanish vocabulary How to write and then make a speech in public (they have seen you do it very well) Understand ‘how people see’ Four cases: Different people & different types of learning What to do? P Conway, PDE @ UCC 1
Variety of theories with deeproots Many theories (‘folk’ & ‘official’) No one approach has all the answers P Conway, PDE @ UCC 2
Some approaches: learningas… Plato: …“recollection” V Locke: …writing on a “blank tablet” Skinner (Behaviourism): …actions of the environment on the learner Kohler (Gestalt): …patterns & structure of the mind e.g. ‘Aha’ Simon (Cognitive Science/AI/IP):…as “computerlike” phenomenon Piaget (Constructivism): ….as an adaptive function of an organism Vygotsky, Dewey (Social constructivism): …as becoming a member of community of practice P Conway, PDE @ UCC 3
The learning paradox & theory of recollection “I know Meno what you mean… you argue a man cannot search…for what he does not know…for he does not know what to look for; for if he knows, he has no need to inquire; and if not, he cannot; for he does not know the subject about which he is to enquire” (Plato, 370BC/1956) Recollection: The Myth of Er: Drinking on the banks of the Forgetful River (but not too much!) P Conway, PDE @ UCC 4
The “tabula rasa” blankslate: Feed everything in Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper [tabula rasa], void of all characters without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from experience: in that all our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself. (Locke, 1689, An Essay on Human Understanding) P Conway, PDE @ UCC 5
Putting the building blocks in place (Locke’s blank slate)Bringing out out what the learneralready ‘knows’ (Plato’s recollection) P Conway, PDE @ UCC 6
Plato & Locke shared someideas (mistaken assumptions) Learner is passive in both Plato: learner as spectator on reality Locke: an empty cabinet waiting to be filled Experience is something that happens to a learner Locke (YES) Plato (yes) BUT Locke’s atomism Simple ideas ----> complex ideas? P Conway, PDE @ UCC 7
Behaviourism & schooling “Psychology as the behaviourist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Introspection forms no essential part of its method…The behaviourist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute” Watson, Psychological Review, 1913 P Conway, PDE @ UCC 8
Applications in education Behaviour modification ABA in regular & special education (e.g. ASDs, EBD) To develop & strengthen new behaviour; To maintain behaviour, To stop behaviour, To modify emotional response Think about: 1. Cues/triggers, 2. rewards Programmed instruction: Mastery learning Break learning into small steps, easy to hard & ‘shape behaviour’ up the learning pyramid P Conway, PDE @ UCC 11
Behaviourism & schools:Practices, limits & ethics Conditioning occurs all the time - both classical and operant Pay attention to cues, rewards & unintentional reinforcement Objections: Limits & ethics Conditioning beliefs, attitudes? Student awareness, thinking, HOT? Should rely on intrinsic rewards rather than ‘punished by rewards’ (see Kohn) Does all learning necessitate direct reward or punishment of the learner? The end of ‘free will’ (Skinner’s book Walden Two, I.e. ABA-based Utopia) P Conway, PDE @ UCC 12
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